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How Protective Life Puts Customer-Centricity into Practice


Too often life insurers don’t fully consider the entirety of a customer’s experience throughout the course of a transaction. Behind shiny new digital interfaces customers can find themselves mired in un-integrated, manual steps. Progress towards their immediate goal slows. Obstacles and attendant frustrations arise. At some point, perhaps during the second phone call or while scanning a paper document, the experience is ruined.  

There is a better, holistic way to approach CX during digital transformation. 

In a discussion with Anthony O’Donnell of Insurance Innovation Reporter on a recent episode of Life Accelerated, Equisoft’s Life Insurance podcast, Cissy Williams, COO of Protective, laid out how they have transformed, not just their technology, but the vision and underlying strategy for total customer engagement. 

The Traditional approach to CX 

In some ways Protective has left customer experience behind. They see the solution in a far wider context. It’s not just about how they think about their clients or how they organize themselves.

For Protective customer-centricity is paramount.  

Like a lot of insurance companies, we had managed the business pretty functionally up to that point and Protective recognized the need to engineer more horizontally‒really understand customer journeys and how customers experience the purchase and the ownership process of life insurance and annuities across the life cycle.

Cissy Williams, COO, Protective 

Start with commitment to customers 

At Protective, customer centricity is a transformational concept. It means putting their commitment to the customer at the center of everything they do. Not just to be able to meet minimum needs and deliver on promises, but to make more things possible for clients and to always aspire to improve their lives.  

Customer centricity is what drives Protective’s digital transformation. It’s all about harnessing technology, business processes and resources to continue to exceed the evolving needs of their customers.  

How technology is integrated with the business to enhance CX at Protective. 

The organization is always thinking strategically about customer experience and engagement. They seek to fully understand customer imperatives and create business strategies that will fulfill them. 

With a customer-centricity strategy as the starting point, the question then becomes, how will the company engineer the right solution? What will be automated, what won’t? How can value be delivered throughout the end-to-end customer experience? 

For Protective, the answer to that question‒ and the bridge between customer-centricity strategies and execution‒ is an interaction matrix model. This model assesses discrete types of customer interactions based on two criteria: complexity and customer value. Depending on where an interaction falls on the continuum from low complexity-low value to high-complexity-high value determines what kind of process, resources and tools will make up the solution.  

How the CX model defines solutions 

Here is a concrete example of how strategy drives the building of the model which then determines the process, resources and tools required:  

In the interaction matrix model, low complexity interactions would be those that don’t require the customer to have a significant amount of process, knowledge, or product knowledge. Low value interactions are those which don’t significantly affect a customer either emotionally or financially.  

Customers should be navigating these types of interactions easily and on their own with few steps and little context needed. For example, they should be able to make a simple address change quickly without needing assistance. 

At the other end of the spectrum are the more complex engagements. These require customers to engage in a process, answer questions, or understand a product. These types of interactions have a high impact on the customers’ finances, emotions or goals.  

While complex interactions may or may not start online, there is the opportunity to engage an expert or advisor if needed. The complexity requires Protective to build flexibility into the process in order to deliver on the customers’ changing needs as they progress from step to step.  

For example, when a beneficiary provides a first notice of loss, it is important for them to be able to talk to an advisor who is empathetic, can reassure them about the process and help them cope during the difficult time. However, the beneficiary may not want or need the advisor to handhold them through the actual steps in the process. They may appreciate having access to a digital solution that helps them complete the steps quickly and without frustration. 

If you try to automate and digitize too much, you get fallout, right? And you end up creating angst on the part of the customer and you end up impacting the productivity of the customer and the organization.   “It's not one size fits all. There are things that are a fit for automation and things that are much more fit for engagement, conversation, and even consultation. And that's how we try to engineer.

Cissy Williams, COO, Protective 

How CX is integrated horizontally across channels 

Protective’s commitment to their customers goes far beyond a static model for managing interactions. They continually seek to understand customer imperatives as they evolve and work to develop new methodologies, tools, and strategies for exceeding expectations in every instance. 

For Protective, the best way to enhance CX is to take a holistic approach that drives their digital transformation.   

To find out more about Protective’s unique approach to CX and more about their digital transformation successes check out the podcast. 

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